A pilot and passenger who were trapped in a small plane for nearly seven hours after it crashed into power lines in Montgomery County, Maryland, on November 27 have been rescued. According to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Chief Scott Goldstein, both were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, including orthopedic and trauma injuries from the crash as well as hypothermia.

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According to Pete Piringer, chief spokesperson for Montgomery County (MD) Fire & Rescue Service, the rescue began at 5:30 p.m. when crews responded to reports of a small aeroplane flying into power lines. When officers arrived on the scene, they discovered a small plane suspended about 100 feet in the air after colliding with the tower.

Maryland State Police identified the pilot as Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, DC. According to a state police news release, the passenger is Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana. During the rescue, the fire department communicated with the pilot and passenger, and nearby roads were closed, according to officials.

According to state police, the crash site is about four miles northwest of the Montgomery County Airpark. Rescuers had to wait for the tower to be “grounded or bonded” before they could reach the passengers, Goldstein said at a press conference on the evening of November 27.

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According to the chief, this entailed crews ascending to place clamps or cables on the wires to ensure there was no static electricity or residual power. He also stated that the aeroplane needed to be secured to the tower structure. He added that the area’s foggy weather conditions complicated matters by reducing visibility.

At 11:30 p.m., a utility contractor finished grounding power lines near the plane, and the contractor assisted rescue crews in securing the plane within the next 45 minutes, according to Goldstein. According to Goldstein, the first person was removed from the plane at 12:25 a.m., and the second person was removed about 10 minutes later.

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Goldstein stated that the department checked in with the plane’s occupants on a regular basis during the rescue and limited their cell phone use to conserve batteries. According to the Pepco utility company, which provides electric service to approximately 894,000 customers in Washington, DC and surrounding areas in Maryland, approximately 120,000 customers were without power on November 27 evening following the crash, but that number was reduced to less than 1,000 customers early on November 28 morning.

Montgomery County is located to the north of Washington, DC. According to Goldstein, officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and Maryland State Police were on the scene. According to state police, the FAA imposed an aircraft restriction during the rescue efforts.